My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This YA book is more on the level of the Percy Jackson books (i.e. good for the younger crowd). The plot is simple but someone really did their homework with it. Young Alex Van Helsing (no, not THAT Van Helsing according to his father) has been sent to an exclusive all boys boarding school in Geneva Switzerland after something bad happened at his last school but we don’t learn that immediately. The book opens in media res with Alex finding a dead man in the woods and is attacked by a vampire. He dusts her by accident.
Another appears at his school the next night but Alex is half refusing to believe it’s real because his father insists stuff like that is only in the movies. He has more immediate concerns. He’s been housed with Steve and Bill Merrill who are out to make his life miserable up to and including setting up a time for a schoolyard fight. Alex does have friends, Paul a larger British boy and Sid, the vampire aficionado. They’re even studying vampires and Frankenstein in their literature class ran by Mr. Sangster. Also plaguing Alex is the fact that he can’t get used to his new contacts (a point that gets rather belabored).
At the scheduled beat down, Alex is helped by Minhi, a Hindu girl who has studied Martial Arts. Later he gets invited with Paul and Sid to a performance at her all-girl school but before that can happen, more vampires attack and it turns out one of the teachers is actually a member of the Polidorium, a secret society of vampire hunters and that he is stunned that Alex, while heavily trained in sports, mountain climbing and rescue, is completely unaware of the society in spite of his parents former involvement.
Alex is caught between wanting in on the monster hunting and not upsetting his parents but when things go badly at the performance and the Icemaker, a vampire lord, seems to be winning, Alex has to make a choice.
Over all, the story is fun. Alex and his friends are likeable enough though a bit of a trope at this point. There can certainly be many parallels drawn between this and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I did like that Henderson obviously knows a lot about vampire literature and creates a slightly AU history for John Polidori (and one I hope gets readers to do their own exploring in this area). Polidori was, as far as modern literature teachers are concerned, was a bit of a hanger on of Lord Byron and Shelley. He was present at the Haunted Summer where Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein. A few years later he was ostracized from their group, destitute and did write one of the very first vampire stories, which is considered a scathing look at Lord Byron’s user personality. In this story, Polidori allowed himself to be bowdlerized, faked his own death and became a monster hunter. I’d read the next one in the series.
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